Judy Murray is Britain’s pre-eminent Touchline (or court-side) Mum. She played tennis professionally, has coached at a high level and is Great Britain’s Federation Cup Captain – a role that has meant she spends less time doing what most of us know her for: supporting her younger son, Andy. She did coach both of her boys, but stepped aside when she recognised it would benefit their development. And when Andy achieved the apogee of that development at Wimbledon, Judy, we were all pleased to see, was watching intently from the players’ box.
Mrs TL has no sporting pedigree, a result of her parents’ ambivalence bordering on resistance to sport. If one of the kids wants advice on a football trick, a gymnastics tumble or a cricket shot, their Mum is not an obvious source. Mrs TL kicks with the toe of her shoe – even when in sandals – and needs a lot of work on her off-drive. She is an occasional attender at the boys’ sports. Mrs TL has been known to turn up at a football match and, several minutes into the game, ask for clarification about which way her boy’s team is kicking. She finds us perennial Touchline dwellers ridiculous.
Yet, if Andy owes it all to Judy, sons no.1 & 2 and the 1&onlyD would be nothing on the playing field or in the gymnasium without their Mum.
Their kit, to begin with. I would follow naked or filthily attired children but for their Mum’s endless cycle of washing and drying of football kits – junior team and replica – leotards, school PE kit and cricket whites. She also knows when and where to replenish stocks of socks and trainers, City tops and Barcelona bottoms.
Nutrition next. One vegetarian and two meat-eaters, one of whom eats almost only ham; the other a bias towards chicken. The temptation would be to pander to their tastes and serve margarita pizza every night – or my preferred solution, starve them until they all will eat the same thing – but somehow Mrs TL offers a healthy diet with the limited choices accepted. Meals are prepared before sports and post-play hunger addressed, too.
The 1&onlyD has developed a sensible aversion to eating shortly before gymnastics into an obsession that means tea can be taken at 4:55, but cannot end a minute after 5:00 pm. And these minutes do matter. It’s all in the scheduling.
Friday: no.2 son’s football development centre and no.1 son’s cricket matches.
Saturday: no.2 son’s football.
Sunday: no.1 son’s football matches.
Monday: cricket practice (both boys).
Tuesday: gymnastics and school cricket or football (no.1 son).
Wednesday: gymnastics and no.2 son’s football practice.
Thursday: sometimes, nothing.
Interleaved with this calendar of physical activity, are found the piano lessons, school orchestra practice and play-dates.
The laundry, feeding, planning and transport fit into a precarious few hours between Mrs TL’s flight from work to the school gates and the start of play, conditioning or nets. And there they compete with homework, conversations about doing homework, conversations about the lack of homework; practice of piano, recorder, violin and spellings; and finding out what the children have done today, what they must have with them tomorrow, why they’re grumpy and what has made them fight each other.
Mrs TL is very unlikely to ever have her Wimbledon moment. But she knows that the three children get immense satisfaction and a great deal of their identity from their sports. And as readers of this blog know, I do, too. So from all four of us, “thanks Mum(my)”.